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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

Billboard Women in Music Awards may seem unimportant if you are just waiting for the Grammys, but the Billboard awards shed an essential spotlight on innovative women in the music industry. Though it may just be a branch off the main Billboard Music Awards show, the Billboard Women in Music Awards celebrate the different roles women play in the industry, from the rising stars to the executives. One of the show’s most unique awards is the Woman of the Year Award and this year the honoree was none other than Olivia Rodrigo.

The Woman of the Year Award started in 2007 as a way to honor Reba McEntire’s success as a recording artist, her contributions to the business, and her leadership. From that point on, every year there has been another female artist who receives the award for displaying those qualities.

Through the years, the Woman of the Year Award has had many firsts. Though the award is supposed to go to a different woman every year, Taylor Swift won it twice within the span of three years in the early 2010s. Cardi B was the first rapper to be honored in the latter half of the 2010s. As more of my generation has started to become a part of the music industry, the female musicians of recent years are making their mark.

Billie Eilish holds the title of being the youngest female artist to receive the award at just the age of 17 and with the current Woman of the Year, Olivia Rodrigo is the first Asian American to receive the award. With all of these firsts, it makes perfect sense that Olivia Rodrigo is the newest honoree because her debut year has been setting all kinds of firsts.

With her being honored with one of the biggest awards of the night, Olivia Rodrigo opened up the awards show with a performance of Deja Vu. The performance was pre-taped but it still felt as if you were right there in the audience. Rodrigo has performed Deja Vu plenty of times over the last year but this time her vocals were off the charts. When it comes to new artists, part of the allure is getting to watch as they get older and continuously improve.

After Rodrigo’s performance, Sheryl Crow presented the award to her, which is a big sign of respect as the older generation of artists hands the torch to the new. In her speech, Olivia Rodrigo spoke upon the challenges of being a young woman in the music industry and made a promise to make the industry better for all the young girls writing songs on their bedroom floors. This promise shows the kind of artist that Olivia Rodrigo is because her songs paint a detailed picture of her experiences and her heart as big as her songwriting talent. 

The Billboard awards as a whole aren’t as big as the Grammys or the Oscars, but the role it plays in the music industry is still important. These awards that honor female musicians and celebrate artists from many genres and backgrounds help move the music industry forward. The Woman of the Year Award is one of many awards that artists like Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo have received, but the award will always stand as a testament to their careers and their leadership in creating a better future for all the artists that come after them.

The Woman of the Year award has become a way to show where female artists have been in the industry and where they are going. This award show may not be the biggest one out there, but it is definitely one worth watching in the future.

Haley Morrill

UC Berkeley '25

Haley is a 3rd year at UC Berkeley, who is an art major. She loves to write about the arts, culture, and more! When Haley is not studying, you can find her going to art museums, trying every version of a mocha, or making art. She is very excited to continue with the Her Campus team and is looking forward to the year ahead.